Marketing to Baby Boomers & Generation Jones
In the second installment of our Generational Marketing series, today we’re taking a closer look at Baby Boomers & Generation Jones. Wait, but aren’t they the same group you ask? Nope. You may be familiar with the song, The Living Years and its’ lyrics “Every generation, Blames the one before…”. As it turns out, these lyrics ring close to home for many Boomers when it comes to their younger counterparts.
You could be forgiven for considering the two groups as one having been called Boomers I & II for the longest time. Further review around Y2K however, confirmed a number of distinctly different traits separating the two. For the sake of consistency with these new findings, we’ve split the original, larger group into Boomers (1946-1954) and Generation Jones (1955-1965).
Did you know – As of 2014, these two segments make up nearly a quarter of the entire US population?
Boomers I or The Baby Boomers
Coming of Age: 1963-1972
Age in 2017: 63-71
Current US Population (Est.): 33 million
Boomers were long defined as those born 1946-1965 but in truth, this span made the segment enormous and the resulting data inaccurately broad. Not only did the age difference of 20 years prove significant but the social and cultural differences were profound between both groups. How could someone born in 1946 (just post WW2) be included with a counterpart born in 1965?
Boomers were born into a new post-war world, while Generation Jones were born in the sixties. The two ends of this spectrum were simply night and day. Life experiences were completely different. Attitudes, behaviors and society were vastly different. In effect, all the textbook elements that normally serve to define a segment were blown out of the water by this original misclassification.
Generations are often defined in part, through the sharing of collective experiences. The Boomer segment experienced pivotal moments in history such as the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War among others.
Boomers had good economic opportunities and were largely optimistic about their own potential in a new post-war world. News outlets of the day were quick to capitalize on this underlying current producing articles labeling terms like Baby Boom and Economic Boom as synonymous. Once coined, then ensued a never before seen deluge of generational marketing ploys. Almost from birth, Boomers have been researched, analyzed, and relentlessly pitched to by all manner of would-be marketers.
Key Characteristics: experimental, individualism, free spirited, social cause oriented.
Boomer Traits & Marketing Tips
- Enjoy reading – longer form copy may be your best friend
- Prefer a slower approach with straightforward, thorough language
- Dislike trends & buzzwords, preferring messages that resonate with today’s needs
- Maintain a love of coupons, sales, and bargains
- Keep your promises of only what you can 100% deliver
- Are comfortable browsing & researching online but are less likely to buy
- Have earned the moniker of the “What’s In It For Me?” generation
- Notable Boomers include: Bruce Springsteen, Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey
- 52% are influenced more by retail websites, than by advertising and salespeople
- In store, boomers place high importance on customer service
- Appreciate word of mouth recommendations, direct mail and face-to-face communications
- Less motivated by price and are loyal to the styles and brands they like
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Boomers II or Generation Jones
Coming of Age: 1973-1983
Age in 2017: 52 to 62
Current US Population (Est): 64 million
Generation Jones was the first post-Watergate generation directly resulting in a loss of much of its trust in government and optimistic views of their Boomer predecessors. Economic struggles were rampant including the oil embargo of 1979 only serving to reinforce a sense of “I’m out for me” along with a focus on self-help and skepticism towards media and institutions. They are also the first generation to commonly have two working parents out of sheer necessity.
Generation Jones had huge expectations as children in the 1960s, only to find themselves confronted with a very different reality once they came of age. The youngest members of Jones simply didn’t have access to the same benefits available to Boomers. Many of the best jobs, opportunities and even housing to some degree had already been taken by the earlier group. Faced with long periods of mass unemployment and then de-industrialization, many Jones’s understandably voiced a longing for the good old days of the sixties.
Generation Jones experienced the end of the Vietnam war, the Watergate scandal, Iran hostage crisis, mass prolonged unemployment and AIDS as some of their rites of passage.
Many members of Generation Jones failed to identify too closely with the broader classification of Boomers. Nor did they feel much in the way of kinship with the following Generation X. In truth, a large part of this segment consider themselves overlooked or lost in the middle of a generational change. This is something that both Jones and the later Generation X, still feel the effects of to this day.
Surprisingly, the classification of Generation Jones only came about in the last twenty years. What is even more surprising is that Jones is, in fact, the largest cohort of all “Boomer I & II’s” with almost 67% belonging to this very segment.
Key Characteristics: less optimistic, distrust of government (post-70’s), some cynicism, more practical and rational than predecessors.
Generation Jones Traits & Marketing Tips
- Share traits like idealism with boomers but behave differently
- Tend to be more practical & rational in their approach to change
- Pop culture ref: in The Wonder Years tv show, Kevin is Jones, his sister a Boomer
- Remember what life was like before technology & long for that simplicity
- Willing to unplug & primarily use technology as a tool for social betterment, personal gain & convenience
- Mobile is not their preferred medium, think desktop
- Turned off by hard sell tactics and hype – definitely not the way to go
- Prefer to be given all the facts and then decide for themselves if a product or service is right for them
- Using emotional triggers as a tactic is not out of the question
- Famous Jonesers include: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Barack Obama
- Respond well to nostalgic icons & placements from their childhood and teen years
- Spend more online than their boomer predecessors
Still the Forgotten Generation? Only at your peril …
Here are just a few of the many tidbits gleaned through our research. Some of these may surprise you and some of these little nuggets are just too good not to share, so here we go!
- Only 10-15 percent of advertising dollars are spent on this demographic, despite accounting for almost half of consumer packaged-goods sales ~ Nielsen
- In 2017, almost half of the U.S. adult population will be 50+ and they will control a full 70 percent of the disposable income ~ Nielsen
- Globally, the spending power of 60+ will hit $15 trillion by the end of this decade ~ Euromonitor
- “The world has never before seen such a powerful market” ~ University of Cincinnati
- In 2011, the peak age of vehicle buyers shifted upward to 55-64 (from the previous 35-44) and that trend is here to stay. ~ University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
- In April 2016, Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest e-commerce company introduced a website dedicated specifically to customers over 50. ~ Bloomberg
- “You’d have to be an idiot to turn your back on this humongous growth market,” ~ Jody Holtzman, Senior VP AARP Thought Leadership.
- Canadians aged 50-75 years old are set to inherit $750 billion over the next decade, the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in Canadian history ~ CIBC estimate per CBC.
A lot of research went into this article discovering a veritable treasure trove of intel. At the end of the day, were we to publish all of our findings, there would be enough content to fill a trilogy of novels twice over. It would be fair to say, we now have a newfound respect for the toils of editors :)
It should be noted too, that we are not in any way attempting to “generalize” any groups here. Quite the opposite as we welcome the fact that some Boomers or Jones may well disagree with some of the points raised. That, in a nutshell, is exactly our point though and as they say, the exception often proves the rule.
Our goal in this generational marketing series is to help identify some commonly reported traits of each generation. We do this is the hope of providing value and indeed a practical tip or two that you may find of benefit in your own business.
Thanks for reading! We hope you have enjoyed this second installment of our Generational Marketing series. You might also like our our first segment Marketing to Generations.
Next UP will be Generation X – be sure to stay tuned as there’s lots more to come …
Also published on Medium.